Out-play opponent. Fail to convert on scoring chances. Sudden defensive lapse. Rinse. Repeat.
The Colorado Rapids’ miserable summer run of form, which has seen them go 2-11-1 in MLS play since a May 26 win over Montreal, may not necessarily be a product of the Rapids being out-classed or dominated, as their record might suggest. Rather, it’s been mostly a result of poorly-timed defensive blunders coupled with a failure to convert numerous scoring chances into goals.
In their latest example, the Rapids’ defeat last Friday night came at the hands of the Portland Timbers, where Colorado dominated possession 57-43, landed more shots and shots on goal than their opponents and mostly appeared to be the better side. But they still managed to walk away from JELD-WEN field empty-handed, losing 1-0.
“It’s incredible. Incredible,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said after the game on Friday.
READ: Dike, Timbers too much for Colorado
In the 45th minute of the loss, Bright Dike slipped behind Colorado center back Marvell Wynne and pounced on Sal Zizzo’s cross for the game’s lone goal. The Rapids managed a dozen attempts on goal, but couldn’t convert on any of them and lost for the third time in their last four games as a result, leaving players frustrated post-game.
“At the end of the day, we had a couple pretty good opportunities to tie it up, which I think if you look at the overall game, it would have been more of a fair result,” defender Drew Moor said Friday. “But, when you don’t put the ball in the back of the net you get punished for it.”
Friday’s game was simply a microcosm for Colorado’s struggles through the summer. Although the Rapids appeared improved defensively from the team that permitted eight goals in its previous three games on Friday night, finishing chances was a major Achilles heel against Portland. Two of the Rapids’ key chances to score went un-rewarded: Martín Rivero’s 17th-minute blast inside the penalty box was spectacularly saved, and second half substitute Omar Cummings’ close-range open header narrowly went wide of the net, an unwanted running theme for the now last-placed Rapids.
“I have said many times and I don’t want to repeat it because it’s a lesson we don’t seem to learn — opportunities come and we have to score,” Pareja said. “It looks like something is missing on that final touch, that final pass, and [to be] accurate and finish. That will change the story of the games, it will change obviously the results.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.